When trying to learn about sustainability, it’s important to look at your habits and see where in your personal daily routine you could make the greatest impact. What’s a small change you can do every day that results in a big impact? My journey has been full of ups and downs, but one thing’s for sure: I’ve stayed curious and made some clever swaps in my routines in order to live a planet friendly lifestyle.
For example, I brush my teeth every day and have to replace my toothpaste every 3-4 months anyway. An amazing option to minimize my waste would be to purchase toothpaste tablets.
1. Reusable or Biodegradable Straws
Okay, I know this seems obvious, but plastic water straws are not necessary. Many companies now sell reusable or biodegradable straws and reusable water bottles and it’s actually trendy to feature them on Insta. For a quick, disposable, eco-friendly option, check out EQUO: they make straws out of grass, rice, coconut, sugarcane and more, plus they’re biodegradable. If you’re going for a more permanent option, seek out metal or durable plastic options and don’t forget to clean them regularly!
2. Zero Waste Toothpaste
As I mentioned earlier, transitioning to a zero-waste toothpaste is one of the easiest lifestyle items to change. Some great choices are Georganics, Bite, Unpaste, and many more. All of the brands listed and many more come in reusable glass or compostable containers, reducing the waste that comes from toothpaste tubes. Not to mention, most toothpaste tubes can’t be recycled so shopping these brands is a way to avoid that accidental wishcycle.
3. Reusable Facial Rounds
I used to pour money into makeup wipes – I’d even stockpile them because I never wanted to run out. Then I learned (from TikTok, by the way) about a reusable option that is better for your skin and the environment, and I’m never going back! Some great brands that carry reusable makeup rounds are EcoRoots, Glossier, The Green Green Shop, and you can find them in a ton of other places as well.
4. Reusable Food Storage
I have a confession– my eyes are almost always bigger than my stomach. I always end up with leftovers! It’s tempting to reach for a Ziploc bag, but all that plastic adds up. Investing in reusable food storage bags and beeswax wraps makes a serious difference in your plastic consumption. Some of my favorite brands are Stasher reusable bags, Lilybee reusable wraps and bags, Bee Good food wraps, and the Public Goods reusable food storage wraps.
You can also just rely on old Tupperware, mason jars, or even go DIY and make your own beeswax paper out of beeswax pellets, cotton fabric, and parchment paper.
5. Zero-Waste Personal Care: Bars and Razors
I know everyone has their favorite toiletries, but next time you are in the mood to try something new, switch out your favorites for a zero-waste alternative. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and shaving cream bars are all great zero-waste substitutes that are so concentrated they last way longer than your bottled products.
There are bar options for all hair types so finding the right one was a bit of a process for my wavy hair, but I eventually found my fit. Some zero-waste options I’d recommend include Lush shampoo bars, Public Goods natural shampoo that utilizes reusable bottles, The Earthling Co shampoo bars, Ethique shampoo bars, and more.
6. Dryer Balls
My fiance and I recently made the switch to dryer balls and one of the most pleasant surprises was that 3 dryer balls cost the same amount as one package of dryer sheets. Most dryer balls last 1000+ dry cycles and each dryer sheet lasts one dry cycle.
During my sustainability journey, I have noticed a pattern: sustainable can often be cheaper. Reusable items end up saving me a lot of money!
7. Swedish Dishcloths
One of my favorite zero waste finds is the Swedish Dishcloth. Once you get one wet, it functions exactly like a wet paper towel. I have a set I use specifically for furniture and a different set for the bathroom. I love that they dry so flat and perfectly.
8. Bar Soap
Let’s talk bar soap: I was an avid foam soap user, but at long last, I’m a convert to bars. This was probably one of the most necessary changes I made that I highly recommend others take as well. Bar soap lasts longer than its foam counterpart and requires minimal packaging.
I have used this change as an opportunity to support local businesses. Every time my soap bar gets smaller I look for a local business to support. Now, shopping for soap fulfills many needs including my need to shop, my desire to be zero waste, and my desire to shop local, just to name a few.
Or, if you don’t have time to explore fairs, this Public Goods bar soap is made with all-natural ingredients and is only $3!
9. Reusable Bags
A great way to start your zero-waste journey is to seriously invest in some reusable grocery bags. Most grocery stores have started to sell them so you can just pick them up on your next meal-prep run!
Buy some that you like and then never give them up. If you don’t know what you want exactly, try to use some reusable bags that have been hanging around the house. You can even bring your old plastic bags to try to get as much use out of them as you can.
10. Use What You Have or DIY
Lastly, the best zero-waste swap I’ve found is to use what you have. Turn old T-shirts into reusable dishcloths instead of throwing them away. Try to DIY as much as you can. Use refill bars when possible to not have to use extra packaging, regrow or repurpose any food scraps you have, and buy second-hand as often as possible.
To get started on your sustainability journey, you don’t actually need to buy anything. You can repurpose or make most of the items I mentioned earlier. In fact, using what you have is always best for the environment.
Although, when what you have runs out and you want to treat yourself to a new eco-friendly product, splurge away. Make sure to do your research first though. Items are often mislabeled or greenwashed so be careful. One rule of thumb I have: if it’s wrapped in plastic it’s probably a bad idea.